Learning from extinction

Alexander Wilson wrote that “while visiting friends in New England, sitting in the kitchen suddenly the sky became dark, there was no light in the room, and a rumbling noise grew louder, I was certain it was a tornado”. When his friends saw how frightened he was, they exclaimed, “Oh, it’s only the pigeons flying overhead”.

With fossil records dating back to 100,000 years before present and once believed to be the most abundant land bird in North America, with a population of 3-5 billion, how does the passenger pigeon become extinct within 40 years of decline? 

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Year of the salamander

The next time you take your kids or grandkids for a trek through your favourite Ontario provincial park, stay on the lookout for salamanders.  Some of these wondrous little amphibians are on the endangered species list so if you see one skulking through your park, snap a selfie and send it to Ontario Nature, or download a free app at ontarionature.org/atlas. Your scientific discovery could help scientists understand more about why these fascinating creatures are disappearing.

According to a study done by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, amphibians such as salamanders, frogs and toads are experiencing one of the biggest declines globally. In fact, 41 percent of amphibians worldwide are endangered or threatened, including here in Ontario.

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Ticks and itches lead to moose hair loss

The iconic Canadian moose is the largest mammal to roam in Algonquin Provincial Park and thousands of park visitors delight in spotting them every year. 

Yet did you know these majestic animals are sometimes under attack by a blood-sucking parasite the size of a grain of quinoa?  Multiply these voracious vampires by the thousands on a single moose and you have relentless grooming that causes some moose to lose their hair and increase their risk of dying from hypothermia. 

So what causes this maddening and potentially lethal infestation? Continue reading Ticks and itches lead to moose hair loss

Burnt Lands Buckthorn Removal Blitz!

Guest Blogger: Erica Barkley
Assistant Zone Ecologist
Southeast Zone
 Ontario Parks is home to amazing natural places, and it’s our job to look after them. At Burnt Lands Provincial Park, a non-operating Nature Reserve near Almonte, park staff and partners came together to do just that.
Before and after European buckthorn removal at Burnt Lands Provincial Park.

Continue reading Burnt Lands Buckthorn Removal Blitz!

Species at risk: researching eastern whip-poor-wills in Algonquin Provincial Park

Have you ever heard the call of a whip-poor-will? Unlike many other birds, its call is very distinctive. The eastern whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) is a “name-sayer” and certainly a vociferous one, with records of calls repeated over 1000 times!

Continue reading Species at risk: researching eastern whip-poor-wills in Algonquin Provincial Park

Dramatic Changes at Killbear Provincial Park

Harold Point campground
Harold Point campground

In the fall of 2012, Killbear Provincial Park began cutting down thousands of American beech trees infected with beech bark disease.  These trees were in danger of falling on campsites, park roads and trails.  Beech bark disease can weaken tree trunks and cause them to snap unexpectedly. Continue reading Dramatic Changes at Killbear Provincial Park

Springwater

As part of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ September 2012 transformation announcement, Ontario Parks will change the designation of a number of provincial parks, including Springwater Provincial Park, from operating to non-operating.  In deciding which parks to re-designate, we looked at many factors including low visitation rates, low cost recovery, and the upcoming need for investment in capital upgrades to remain operational. Continue reading Springwater